Puerto Rican Paper Towels to Buchenwald Bread Crumbs: #RESIST, While You Still Have Time

The world has now watched the Vulgarian Barbarian openly mock the physically disabled, brag about being a sexual assaulter, verbally humiliate the parents of fallen soldiers, attempt to ban major people groups from entering our nation, kick out other major people groups from our nation, pardon a racist criminal sheriff, work feverishly to strip healthcare from millions of Americans, lie enough times to make Pinocchio’s nose travel to the moons of Jupiter and back—even take the world to the brink of World War III via his partner in toddler despotism, Kim Jong-un.

And that’s the short list! It goes on and on, like a roll of toilet tissue dropped in Tywin Lannister’s loo.

Yet none of the Orange Fuhrer’s black-hole-self-centered actions has upset me more personally than watching him capriciously shoot paper towel jump shots into a group of suffering U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico this past week.

And how do we know these people are suffering? Because everyone in Puerto Rico is suffering. Seriously, no one on the Island of Enchantment is sitting around sipping Medalla Light, thinking to himself or herself, “Phew! Thank God that storm just missed me and everyone I care about!”

Why did Trump’s ballpark-T-shirt-cannon obliviousness make me turn 50 shades of Red Hulk crimson, and cause me to yank the few remaining hairs on my balding pate?

Two years ago this week, in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin, South Carolina was devastated by an historic flood. More than 20 inches of rain destroyed 18 bridges across our state, turned countless communities into lakes or islands, and caused more than $2 billion of damage along the East Coast. Most tragically, 19 human beings in South Carolina lost their lives due to this natural disaster.

(1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: please note that I did not downplay our state’s loss of life by comparing it flippantly, say, to the Battle of Hastings.)

During our 2015 Historic Flood, I started the fifth and final part of my “Humanity, Not Quite Ready for Civilization” series:

Literally more water than you can shake at an insensitive Al Roker selfie has fallen all around us. Businesses, homes, lives, washed away by raging floodwaters. At present, we are without running water; we have no idea when we will regain running water. I had the foresight and enough life-in-Haiti experience to collect standing rainwater for toilets and other non-potable purpose. Plus I have a storehouse of bottled water to last four or five days—maybe a week.

In the end, our community came together resiliently.  The public library branch where I work hosted one of the busiest FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers in South Carolina. Our branch also distributed truckload after truckload of bottled water in the flood’s aftermath. Rich and poor, they came for water. Whether they arrived in $80K sedans or ground-scraping jalopies, the shoulders of each and every community neighbor felt the same.

For the life of me, I am trying to imagine what sort of Japanese toilet demon (yes, that’s a thing) would have to possess me and my librarian colleagues to convince us that lobbing bottles of water at even Lex Luthor would be appropriate in such a circumstance. When a human being who has survived a natural disaster comes forward for a life staple such as drinking water, paper towels, blankets, etc., you simply know that it is not only your responsibility to provide the essential item, but to do so in a manner that begins to restore the dignity of said suffering individual.

The only beings who aren’t innately aware of this moral axiom are Sith lords, Daleks, Ferengi, Lord Voldemort, serial killer clowns, Keyser Söze, Vogons, Nazis and Donald Trump.

Still, most people might not equate the undignified, up-for-grabs tossing of paper towels to, say, Trump’s complete unraveling of the Obama Administration’s clean power plan. At first, even I didn’t quite understand why Trump’s Brawny disrespect made me so blindly livid—so I slept on it.

The next morning, while brushing my teeth, the lightbulb went off.

That scene in Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir, Night: the Jewish prisoners, already nearly-snuffed candles of life, are being shipped by train in the dead of winter to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. The prisoners have not eaten for days—their only sustenance is fallen snow. At a train station, some German workers mockingly toss scraps of bread at the prisoners, and delight in watching the doomed, starving Jews attack one another like animals—one son even kills his father over a morsel.

This! This was the reason I was so livid. One of the most insensitive acts any human being can ever undertake is turning a thing desperately needed by someone else into a source of taunting, personal entertainment.

We all know what should have happened: Donald Trump should have embraced every human being in that room, handed him or her a roll of paper towels, and assured them that their government is doing everything it can. (Of course, it would have been helpful if Trump actually was doing everything possible to help our U.S. citizen neighbors in Puerto Rico.)

But the truth is: our crotch-grabbing, billionaire grifter Narcissist-in-Chief has no moral compass. We have elected an individual with all the empathy of a child serial killer to lead us—a man who mocks our individual needs and considers all citizens as gladiators in a self-inherited Colosseum. We fight for paper towels and scraps of bread and flu shots, whilst his Secret Service minions peel grapes for him.

Democracy has rarely been so openly mocked.


If you’ve made it this far, hopefully you’re somewhere between Jimmy-Kimmel-“window-into-hell” desperation and Peter-Finch-“mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore” fury.

Here’s another great line from that classic film, Network: “I’m a human being—goddammit—and my life has value!”

And so, Uncle Sam points his finger at you and asks, “What are you going to do about this Barbarian destroying decades of progress and millions of lives?”

Are you going to sit on your ruffled-feather rump, or are you going to #RESIST?

Each day that we sit on the sidelines, the Barbarian and his minions in Congress advance more. With enough collective inaction, over time, they will win.

Ready to #RESIST? Here’s my advice from my book, So I Ran for Congress:

Write down on a piece of paper the three or four causes you care about most. Then research and find well-run organizations that represent those causes. How will you know if it’s a solid organization? You’ll know over time: the organization will clearly care more about serving its mission than building and defending its castle.

Next: plug in to these organizations; they need you.

Whatever political party, or parties, you identify with, attend an official county meeting or local club or activism event once a month. Explore and map out your surrounding political community.

Sign up to volunteer for a local campaign.

Also: give up things.

I sacrificed a sizable percentage of my income, of my time and resources, to our campaign. If you can’t be bothered to give up an hour a week of Netflix, a football game, the dollars you spend on specialty coffee or Friday night fun, then don’t complain ever again about anything related to Government and politics. Period, end of story.

Again, sacrifice. And take five minutes to think about the sacrifices that have been made for you. We did that in August, when my daughter and I traveled to Washington DC for a couple of endorsement interviews. We spent time at the World War II Memorial welcoming World War II vets who were visiting from Chicago. We visited my uncle’s name on the Vietnam War Memorial. We spent time in Charlottesville and Montpelier, learning about the lives of the Founding Fathers and Mothers. I was perhaps the only candidate for U.S. Congress in 2016 who actually spent campaign time in the room where James Madison drafted the Constitution.

Every Democrat, progressive, Left-of-Center person I know is complaining vehemently about the Trump Administration, but turnout for all these special elections post-November 2016 is less than 10%.

“Well, I’m busy. I’m a single parent. I work two jobs.”

Sorry. I’m busy too. I’m a single parent. I worked full-time and ran for U.S. Congress. And I’ve never earned a dime in politics. Voter complaints about sacrifice shrivel up and die at my feet.

Also, I’m a librarian. Anyone can devote 30 minutes every six months to visiting a public library and saying, “I need help finding information about upcoming elections and candidates. What resources are available to me?” Heck, contact me directly. I just don’t have time for excuses; we’re talking about the Republic itself in jeopardy.


Be a Body. Be a Voice. Act. #RESIST.

While you still have time.

Arik Bjorn

Arik Bjorn lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He was the Democratic Party / Green Party fusion candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of South Carolina. Visit the archive for Arik’s campaign website, and check out his latest book, So I Ran for Congress. You can also follow his political activities on Twitter @Bjorn2RunSC and on Facebook. And be sure to check out more from Arik in his archives!


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